Thursday, March 25, 2021

LEGO Minifigures Series 21


(See Tim's LEGO Reviews for my reviews of past LEGO Minifigures series.)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I never did acquire any of the Series 20 Minifigures, but I did recently visit a local store that had the Series 21 figures. Fortunately, the character I wanted most, the Centaur Warrior, is very easy to find by feel thanks to her large horse body piece. I was able to find several of them within just a few minutes, and then spent some more time looking for the others I wanted. 

I now own 7 of the 12 characters in this series. (Note that it's a smaller series that most, with only a dozen characters instead of the usual 16.) I did not buy the Airplane GirlBeekeeperPug Costume GuySpace Police Guy, and Violin Kid, so am omitting them from my mini-reviews below. Rest assured, however, that if you're looking for Airplane Girl, the big wings of her costume are almost as easy to find by feel as the centaur body. The Beekeeper's hat and square tile honeycomb are very distinct as well, as is the Space Police's shield and armor. (Is it just me, or does issuing a policeman with a riot shield and baton seems rather tone-deaf to major news stories of the past year or two? If I acquire more of this series, I'll be skipping that one.)

Alien: This alien wears an orange bodysuit and carries a crowbar and a crystal that it likely just extracted from a mine. Its species is unclear due to a mask covering part of its face. The mottled skin and small spines on the back of the head suggest reptilian or amphibian, or even insectoid or more bizarre. (My wife will be using this minifigure for her shirren, an insectoid race in the Starfinder RPG.)  

Ancient Warrior: This warrior is based on an Aztec Jaguar Warrior, with a feathered feline headdress, a shield with stylized jaguar face, and even jaguar-print tattoos or bodypaint, and clawed toes. The head is double-sided: one smiling, and one snarling with fangs. He wields a macuahuitl, a flat wooden club edged with sharpened pieces of obsidian. (This weapon is the main reason I wanted this character, because a recent session of the Grey Angels campaign involved stealing magical ones from an auction.) 

Cabaret Singer: This performer wears a glittery teal and purple costume with a silver fabric train and a feathered headdress, with matching makeup on a double-sided head--one face smiling, the other with eyes closed as she belts out her song. She comes with a microphone and stand, which uses a 1x1 round plate with a hole in the stud as the base, so it can be mounted on a baseplate's stud.

Centaur Warrior: This character's body is the same piece as the centaurs from Forbidden Forest: Umbridge's Encounter*, but in caramel and brown. The body is a bit smaller than a standard LEGO horse--about half an inch shorter both vertically and horizontally--but I think this smaller size looks more in scale with the minifigure. It's also easier to fit this centaur into a Large (2") space than a horse, and not horrible outsized for the playable centaur race in D&D 5E, which is technically Medium-sized.

The torso has a sleeveless green garment, with a tree motif, and the wrists have matching bracers. She has a bow, and a quiver that can be hung from one of the studs in her back. She also comes with an apple--but whether that's supposed to indicate her forest home, or be used as a target (ala William Tell) is unclear. 

(*The centaurs and the giant in the Umbridge's Encounter set are very appealing, but J.K. Rowling's very public transphobic comments over the past year or two have made my family resolve to not buy any more tie-in products to her creations. So I was very pleased to see the centaur body re-released as part of the Minifigures line.)

Ladybug Girl: This woman wears a spotted black and red ladybug costume, including a helmet with antennae, and a short, split cape like the insect's wings. Her head is double-sided, with two different smiles. She comes with a leaf and a 1x1 round tile printed to look like a ladybug. As with most parts this small, my bag came with an extra tile, which could be handy for anyone wanting more tiny vermin.

This minifigure makes a serviceable Medium-sized beetle as-is by bending her over onto all fours.

Paddle Surfer: This woman is clearly fond of dolphins: she has one printed on her wetsuit (though her life vest covers it) and she has found one to paddle near. Her head is double-sided, one side having sunglasses, and her ballcap is combined with hair in a ponytail. 

The dolphin is the same as used in the Friends theme, in a neutral gray. There are "anti-studs" on the bottom side of the flukes, so that the dolphin can be stood up on its tail on the baseplate, as if leaping out of the water. Strangely, the bottom surface between the flippers is exactly the same as the bottom of a minifigure torso, so it's possible to create a weird mutant dolphin-monster with human legs. It looks ridiculous--and a bit creepy. 

Shipwreck Survivor: This castaway wears tattered pants and a seashell necklace, and has an anchor tattoo. The head is printed with a beard, which is fully covered by the hair piece's shaggy mop. He also comes with a bottle printed to look like it has a rolled-up message inside. 

He is accompanied by a tiny, cute hermit crab. The shell, made of a 1x1 round plate (with a hole on the stud) and a cupcake (or ice cream?) piece, is attached to a small post on the back of the crab's body. Stacking multiple 1x1 round plates on this post allows other things to be attached to the crab--such as a tail to turn it into a scorpion. 

Or, on a more silly note, make it into the tiniest reality show contestant ever!

Friday, February 26, 2021

Ghosts of Saltmarsh and Freeport

For my past columns about using D&D Fifth Edition sourcebooks with Freeport: The City of Adventure, see the Freeport 5E Index.

This columns contains spoilers for the adventures in Ghosts of Saltmarsh.

Ghosts of Saltmarsh is a nautical-themed anthology of seven adventures from previous editions of D&D updated to the Fifth Edition rules. Three of these form the original Saltmarsh trilogy (The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, Danger at Dunwater, and The Final Enemy), so the book begins with a much expanded description of that port town. The appendix includes rules for ships, sea travel and encounters, and a few additional encounter locations that are too short for chapters of their own.

This book should be invaluable for a GM running a Freeport campaign using 5E. Some adventures will be easier to adapt to that setting than others (see each chapter's entry below), but almost everything in the appendix will be useful in any maritime campaign.

Saltmarsh

Saltmarsh is a coastal port town with a sizable fishing fleet, but it also serves as a port of call for many merchant traders. It is a far cry from the cosmopolitan, pirate- and cult-infested island city of Freeport, so the three Saltmarsh adventures in this book will require some thought to fit into a Freeport campaign. 

Perhaps the easiest option is to locate Saltmarsh on the Continent, some days' sail from Freeport--but that make the campaign more about the Saltmarsh region than about Freeport, at least for the duration of those adventures. On the other hand, Saltmarsh could be very useful for fleshing out part of the Ivory Ports part of the Continent, for when your Freeporters are passing through and catch a whiff of interesting news and rumors that cause them to tarry a while.

This chapter also includes a few new backgrounds for PCs--fisher, marine, shipwright, and smuggler--that are perfectly suited to a Freeport campaign. Each of the backgrounds from the Player's Handbook gets a few notes about how to tie them into Saltmarsh, which may inspire similar connections for Freeport GMs.

The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

The first Saltmarsh adventure involves investigating a seaside haunted house outside the town, then taking on the crew of a smuggling ship using the site as cover. This is a classic adventure, perfect for starting characters, but difficult to work into a campaign that starts in Freeport. It probably works best if set elsewhere in the Serpent's Teeth, perhaps near Libertyville or one of the handful of plantations on the islands. The house and the ship can also be easily used separately, if the GM needs a creepy hideout or a low-level ship's crew for their own adventures.

Danger at Dunwater

The second part of the trilogy is easier to adapt to a Freeport game. The adventure takes place within a massive lizardfolk lair located in a swamp. Lizardfolk are known to live in the Serpent's Teeth, and a tribe of this size would certainly pose a potential threat to other settlements there (though probably very little to Freeport itself). The other races present for the emerging alliance are also common to the seas near Freeport. 

The new lizardfolk stat blocks in the Appendix should be useful in converting older adventures such as "Dead Man's Chest," in Tales of Freeport.

Salvage Operation

This adventure is easily dropped into any ongoing nautical campaign, and Freeport has no shortage of desperate merchants who need adventurers to do dangerous work for them. Demonic cults are also a staple of Freeport campaigns, though GM who wish to emphasize the World of Freeport over Wizards of the Coast's IP may wish to have the villain of this piece worship the alternate Spider Queen described in Green Ronin's Plots & Poison: A Guidebook to Drow.

Isle of the Abbey

The heroes are hired to clear out evil clerics and undead that guard an abbey, while the cult is weakened from a pirate raid. Much like the Freeport line does, the adventure leaves the identity of the cult's god open-ended, with a few campaign world-specific suggestions given in the "Placing the Adventure" sidebar. 

The Final Enemy

In many ways, the finale of the Saltmarsh trilogy is the easiest to incorporate into a Freeport campaign. The sahaugin fortress is located some distance from the city, and could easily be located on an obscure reef near the Serpent's Teeth. The "sea devils" (as Freeporters call them) are a perennial problem for the City of Adventure, so scouting and then assaulting the site would be a highly appropriate mission for Freeport-based heroes. The module presents the stronghold as a former lizardfolk lair, but in the World of Freeport it might actually be an ancient Valossan ruin.

This adventure also includes many new stat blocks for new sahaugin foes and other undersea monsters (in the Appendices) that Freeport GMs can make use of elsewhere--for example, in converting the sahaugin attack in Crisis in Freeport.

Tammeraut's Fate

An island hermitage has come under attack by undead pirates, and by other monsters drawn to the scent of death. Once the PCs secure the island, they must follow the undead below the waves to stop the real threat that they pose.

The Styes

The Styes is a decaying port slowly sinking into the sea. Overall, the City of Adventure is too prosperous to be a good match, but the major sites of the adventure could be probably be transplanted to the docks of Scurvytown. Mr. Dory might be a gang leader, or a politician with ties to a member of the Captains' Council. The Tharizdun cult might be recast as a followers of one of Freeport's secret cults, such as the Unspeakable One, the Crawling Chaos, or Yarash. This adventure is certainly the most Lovecraftian in feel in the anthology, so may very well be worth the extra effort to adapt to Freeport.

Of Ships and the Sea

The book's first appendix presents rules for ships and ship combat, sea travel, and water hazards. Tables for generating random encounters, ships, and mysterious islands are also included. Finally, a trio of underwater locations are briefly detailed. 

Magic Items

A handful of new magic items are presented here, including a couple classic items updated from older editions of D&D.

Monsters and NPCs

In addition to the new monsters already mentioned above, this appendix includes a number of new undead and constructs that should prove useful in other adventures in the "sword & sorcery" vein of Freeport.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bats in the Belfry

The phrase "You're got bats in your belfry" is purely metaphorical to most people, but for the church I attended throughout my childhood, it was absolutely literal. 

The belfry was located above one of the two entrances into the sanctuary. The vestibule below it had a pull-rope for ringing the bells when it was time for the worship service to begin (shortly after the end of Sunday school). However, a colony of bats lived in the belfry, which meant that guano falling through the rope hole was a recurring problem, and a serious health hazard. Eventually, the church had to thoroughly seal off the belfry from the rest of the building, after installing a system by which the bells could be rung by pushing a button rather than pulling a rope.

Because of that hole, and because that vestibule was the exterior entrance to the sanctuary, a bat would occasionally find its way inside the building. I recall two occasions when this happened when I was present at the church, which had very different endings.

The first time was during a youth group meeting held in the sanctuary one evening. Towards the end of the meeting, a bat started swooping around the sanctuary, freaking out most of the kids. As the only adult present, our youth leader took it upon himself to get the animal out of the building. He found a broom and swatted the bat out of the air. However, he hit it a lot harder then he intended, and it went BOOM into the paneling right below the framed painting of Jesus above the altar. The youth leader had an immediate and intense attack of guilt--he had hurt this tiny creature, and now Jesus was glaring at him!--so he carefully collected the stunned animal, putting it into a bucket until it recovered. I think he stayed there watching over it long after the rest of us were picked up by our parents.

A few years later, when I was in high school, someone spotted a bat clinging to the frame of a stained glass window in the sanctuary. This was during the brief gap between Sunday school and the worship service, so the room was still largely empty and quiet, but wouldn't be for long. I retrieved a ladder and gloves from the janitor's closet, and climbed up to very carefully pry the bat off the window. I held it gently but firmly in my hand as I climbed down and took it outside. Along the way, the bat caught the attention of many of the younger kids as they were leaving their Sunday school classes, so once we were outside, I held the bat so they could get a closer look, but warned them not to touch it. After a couple minutes of this, I found a high ledge on the outside of the building where the bat couldn't be reached easily by little kids, local cats, or other dangers while it recovered from being frightened and disoriented by all the noise and light. 


The picture above is a recent photo of the church, as seen on Google Maps Street View. The belfry roof shown here is new since I last regularly attended (many, many years ago), and I believe that the tower was shortened somewhat in the process, so I'm not sure if there are still any bats in the building today. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Trick's Picks (updated)

I first posted my "Trick's Picks" playlist last April, and have been adding to it in fits and starts ever since. It now has well over 100 tracks (120 at the time that I'm posting this), so I've taken the list and sorted it into some semblance of order. I will update this post as the playlist continues to evolve.

ABBA - Dancing Queen
Adam Lambert - Better Than I Know Myself
Adele - Rolling in the Deep
Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire
Angel & The MamboKats - Black Mambo (Mambero Mix)
Anna Kendrick – Cups

The B-52’s - Love Shack
Backstreet Boys - Larger Than Life
The Bangles - Eternal Flame
Beyonce - Run the World (Girls)  
Bjork - Hunter
The Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling
Blondie - One Way or Another  
Blue Man Group - Drumbone
Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven

Calvin Harris (feat. Rihanna) - This is What You Came For
Christina Aguilera - Genie in a Bottle
Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, Pink - Lady Marmalade
Clean Bandit (feat. Jess Glynne) - Rather Be
Colbie Caillat - Brighter Than the Sun
Colbie Caillat - Bubbly
Colbie Caillat - Fallin’ For You
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
The Corrs - Breathless

Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell Williams) - Get Lucky
David Guetta (feat. Sia) - Titanium
Des’ree - You Gotta Be
Donna Summer - Hot Stuff (12" Version)

Ed Sheeran - Shape of You
ES Posthumus - Unstoppable
Eurythmics (feat. Aretha Franklin) - Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves
Evanescence - My Heart is Broken

Fatboy Slim - Weapon of Choice
Fine Young Cannibals - Good Thing
Franka Potente - Believe

George Michael – Faith
The Greatest Showman Cast - This Is Me

Hadouken! - Levitate
HAIM - Little of Your Love
Halestorm - Freak Like Me
Halestorm - I am the Fire
Hayley Kiyoko - Girls Like Girls
Heart - Barracuda  
Heart - Crazy on You
The Hu (feat. Lzzy Hale) - Song of Women

INXS - Need You Tonight

Janelle Monae - Make Me Feel
Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
Jefferson Airplane - Somebody to Love
Jessie J - Domino
John Legend - All of Me
Journey - Any Way You Want It
Journey - Don't Stop Believin'

k.d. lang - Constant Craving
Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

Lady Gaga - Edge of Glory
Lady Gaga - You and I
Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song  
Lenny Kravitz - Fly Away
Lenny Kravitz- Are You Gonna Go My Way
Lindsey Stirling - Artemis  

Major Lazer & DJ Snake (feat. M0) - Lean On
Mark Ronson (feat. Bruno Mars) - Uptown Funk
Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing
Mary Lambert - She Keeps Me Warm
Meredith Brooks - Bitch
Michael Franti & Spearhead - Say Hey I Love You  

Natalie Cole - Wild Women Do
Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten

Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes
Pharrell Williams - Happy
P!nk - F**king Perfect 
P!nk - Just Like Fire 
P!nk - Raise Your Glass 
P!nk - Try 
Portugal. The Man - Feel It Still
The Pussycat Dolls (feat. Snoop Dogg) - Buttons

Queen - Somebody to Love
Queen - We Are the Champions

Rachel Platten - Fight Song
Rachel Platten - Stand By You
Rare Earth - Get Ready  
Ricky Martin - She Bangs
Roisin Murphy - Night of the Dancing Flame
Roisin Murphy - Ramalama (Bang Bang)

Sara Bareilles - Brave
Sara Bareilles - I Choose You
Sara Bareilles - Orpheus  
Savage Garden - I Want You
Shania Twain - Man! I Feel Like a Woman
Sia - Alive
Sia - Cheap Thrills
Sia - Unstoppable
Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2U
Sixpence None the Richer - Kiss Me
Sixpence None the Richer - There She Goes
Smash Mouth - All Star
Sophie P. Hawkins - Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover
Spice Girls - Wannabe  
Steppenwolf - Born to be Wild
Sting - If I Ever Lose My Faith in You
Survivor - Eye of the Tiger
Swedish House Mafia - Save the World  
The Sweet - Ballroom Blitz

Taylor Swift - Blank Space
Taylor Swift - Delicate
Taylor Swift - Shake It Off
Tegan and Sara - Closer
They Might Be Giants - S-E-X-X-Y
Trinket - Boom
The Troggs - Wild Thing

Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles
The Veronicas - Take Me On the Floor

Walk the Moon - Shut Up and Dance
The Wallflowers - Heroes
WAR*HALL - All This Power [theme song for Grey Angels Season 4]
The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
The Who - Who Are You
The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again

Zara Larsson, MNEK - Never Forget You

Monday, February 8, 2021

The State of the Blog (and the Tim)

In the process of looking up something that I had shared here a couple of years ago, I realized that I had not posted anything new since August. I've been meaning to post a few things during that time, but lacked the motivation to make it happen. So here's a very quick update of where things stand in the many lands of Studded Plate. (Warning: There's a bit about a friend I lost very recently at the end of this column. I'm still figuring out how to talk about it online...or in general) 

Freeport and 5E: The 5E and Fantasy AGE versions of Death in Freeport were released just as I was finishing up that last post in August. I intend to run one version or the other sometime this year. I also have a few items to compose "Freeport and..." articles about at some point: the latest Unearthed Arcana articles (only two since August), Ghosts of Saltmarsh, and possibly Kobold Press's Tome of Beasts (which I'm slowly making my way through). And whenever I acquire Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, I will almost certainly have something to say about using that book with Freeport.

Time of the Tarrasque: This Pathfinder campaign went on hiatus back in 2019, and to be very honest, I'm not sure if it will ever restart at this point. 

The Kynthiad: The solo Greek myth BESM game that I run for my wife Erika is still going, though the end of the campaign is finally approaching. In our last few sessions, Kynthia has been instrumental in definitively ending the Trojan War--with Troy emerging victorious, and many Greek going home without their kings. Now we just have to figure out how she's going to stop Typhon's return, which will make a fitting conclusion to the story--and free up some headspace for me to run other games. 

Building the Bestiary: I would almost certainly have added another installment or two of this series by now, except that the pandemic has forced us to go online for most of our gaming, which means I'm producing far fewer LEGO minis for games. (We do play occasional games in person within our "bubble," but I've been GMing far fewer of those than I used to.)

On a related note, I have not purchased any of the new Minifigures series that have been released since the pandemic started. If and when I do, I will post reviews, but I don't know if that will happen before the end of mandatory social distancing.

Pathfinder Society and Starfinder Society: Erika and I are still heavily involved in organized play for Pathfinder (1E & 2E) and Starfinder. All of these games have been strictly online since March or so, except for occasional games within our "bubble" (such as the Starfinder AP we started recently). I earned my third GM Star for Pathfinder Society 1E just before the end of 2020, but Erika has shot way ahead of me there, and is closing in on her fifth (and final!) GM Star. She became a Venture Officer for our local store about a year ago, so has been running a lot of games for that venue, as well as for several online conventions. We're both playing a lot more PFS 2E and Starfinder now than we have in the past, because it's easier to find games to play in now that we're online. Erika has GMed a couple of 2E scenarios so far, and her first Starfinder game this past month. I haven't tried GMing 2E yet, but have a few Starfinder games under my belt, and intend to run more as I get more familiar with the system. (I still have a ways to go before my first GM Nova, though.)

Grey Angels: I have been intending to write more about the (new and old) adventures of Trick Tillinghast, one of my characters in the long-running "Grey Angels" campaign (using Buffy/Angel Unisystem) that revived for a "reunion arc" at the end of 2019. Sadly, our main GM, Cassandra Lease, died rather suddenly at the beginning of this month. All of us in the game have been close friends with her for upwards of 15 years, so we're all still reeling from this loss. At some future date, we may try to find some way to continue playing in the world that she invited us to help her create, because it would be a damn shame to never again revisit those characters. But we're nowhere near ready to contemplate how to do that yet, apart from agreeing that some day, when we're ready, we very much want to have a long, involved discussion about it. Sharing stories about Cass among her circle of friends has been very helpful to us, and very necessary. When I'm ready to, I will probably share some more stories from the game here, in her memory. She would have liked that. 


I received this Abe Sapien figure as a gift from Cass early on in the Grey Angels game. She used the movie version of Abe as the visual reference for the Tritons, the sea demon race from which my very first GA character, the mage Baz Olmstead, was descended.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Unearthed Arcana and Freeport, Part 15--and official 5E Freeport news!

Welcome back to my ongoing series of capsule reviews of "Unearthed Arcana" with an eye for how to use them with the Freeport setting. This column covers UA articles from April to August 2020. From the number of subclasses undergoing repeated revisions over the past year or so, along with the many other character options (like feats) appearing in UA, it seems pretty clear that Wizards of the Coast plans to release another book of player-facing crunch along the lines of Xanathar's Guide to Everything sometime in the near future.

For my past columns about using D&D Fifth Edition sourcebooks with Freeport: The City of Adventure, see the Freeport 5E Index.

Psionic Options Revisited (4/14/2020): This article starts with a discussion of the common elements in past editions' treatments of psionics, and the history of psionics rules in 5E. UA has presented many approaches, including a psionics-focused class, the mystic. However, the R&D team has abandoned that model in favor of creating new subclasses for existing classes. They have also abandoned the Psionics tradition wizard, which was just introduced late last year.

Three psionic archetypes, the psi knight (formerly psychic warrior, for fighters), soulknife (for rogues), and psionic soul (formerly the aberrant soul, for sorcerers), have been revised to share the common idea of a psionic talent die used to measure the ebb and flow of the character's psychic energy reserve. The character receives a d6 that they may add to certain rolls. If this die rolls the higher possible result, the die decreases in size (or, below a d4, is lost until a long rest); on a 1, it increases instead (to the character's maximum size). At higher levels, the psionic talent die increases in size, and the subclasses gains new options to use with the die. In some cases, that is simply additive; in others, the die determines an effect's duration, or the die is rolled only to determine if it changes size.

This seems to be a fairly simple, elegant way to track psionic power, rather than imposing some sort of power point rules, as in most previous editions. Because it is separate from spell slots, a character can be considered psionic without necessarily casting spells.

This column also includes five psionic feats. One is Wild Talent, which lets any character gain access to a psionic talent die. The options for using the die are very limited, but there also four other feats available that give new uses for that die (and have this feat or the psionic talent class feature as a prerequisite).

This UA also includes three psionic spells. These are updates of older material, and there is a note that some playtest spells have been abandoned; many of this latter group became subclass features or feats instead.

Subclasses Revisited (5/12/2020): As with the previous article, this installment presents new iterations of previous offerings: the Phantom subclass for rogues (previously the Revived), the Genie patron for warlocks (previously the Noble Genie), and the Order of Scribes for wizards (previously the Archivist, an artificer subclass).

The Phantom is a killer with a mystical connection to the dead. That connection gives them a bonus proficiency (which can be changed after a rest), and at later levels it can give them a little bit of the luck or knowledge of those who have died near them. When they sneak attack a foe, they can cause ghostly wails to damage a second target. This subclass would be ideal for the assassins of a death cult, or for a haunted loner. It fits in admirably with the horror elements of the Freeport setting.

The Genie is an otherworldly patron from among the nobles of geniekind. Warlocks of this subclass actually take on some of the properties of their genie masters: they start with a genie's vessel, in which they can retreat from the outer world to rest. At later levels, they gain resistance based on their master's element, can take others into their vessel, and eventually gain some limited wish magic. Genie-binders are an established part of Freeport history, both in the construction of the Wizards Guild, and among the efreeti-blooded azhar, and this subclass offers an interesting inversion of that master-servant relationship.

A wizard of the Order of Scribes can create magical quill at will, and instills some limited sentience in his own spellbook. At higher levels, they become expert spell scroll makers, and their spellbook's mind gains new abilities. This subclass seems ideal for a lorekeeper at the Wizard's Guild or an archivist at the Temple of the God of Knowledge.

Feats (7/13/2020): This article presents 16 new feats. Some grant a small taste of another class's abilities (Artificer Initiate, Eldritch Adept, Fighting Initiate, Metamagic Adept, Tracker). Others enhance the use of a skill (Chef, Poisoner, Practiced Expert). Two represent the influence of another plane (Fey Touched, Shadow Touched). The rest give advantages in combat, usually enhancing attacks (Crusher, Gunner, Piercer, Shield Training, Slasher, Tandem Tactician). All of these feats are appropriate for Freeport, though GMs who don't want to use artificers or firearms in their game will need to restrict access to Artificer Initiate and Gunner, respectively. 

Subclasses, Part 4 (8/5/2020): This installment includes just two new subclasses: the College of Spirits for bards and the Undead patron for warlocks. 

The College of Spirits bard regularly contacts spirits from other planes to learn their stories and use the knowledge gained to aid his allies. They gain guidance as a bonus cantrip, and can use certain occult objects (such as a talking board or tarokka deck) as spellcasting foci. They can also spend their Bardic Inspiration die to learn a tale from a spirit, which they can then use to aid an ally or attack an enemy, depending on the result. This features uses a random table of 12 results, giving access to more options as the Bardic Inspiration die increases in size with level. At mid-levels, the bard can perform a seance-like ritual to temporarily learn a spell from any class, within certain limits. This subclass could be used to represent a classic occult medium who speaks with ghosts and angels, a lorekeeping shaman who speaks with his tribe's ancestors and totems, or the priest of an animistic religion who intercedes with the spirits of heaven and hell as well as nature. All of these concepts could easily find a place in the Freeport setting. 

The Undead patron may be an arch-lich, vampire lord, or other powerful, ancient undead entity. At 1st level, in addition to an expanded spell list, the warlock can assume a Form of Dread that grants temporary hp, forces creatures you hit to save or be frightened, and makes the warlock immune to being frightened for a brief time. Later class features include changing damage inflicted to necrotic, exploding upon reaching 0 hp then respawning with 1 hp; and projecting your spirit from your body. Each of these features has heightened effects when the warlock is in their Form of Dread. This patron is highly appropriate for the Freeport setting, which includes many necromancers in its history, such as the Ghoul-Lords who reigned over much of the Continent centuries ago, or--closer to home--Lord Bonewrack. However, necromancy is also one of the very few capital offenses in Freeport, so choose this patron only after consulting with the DM!

-----

Ahoy! Official 5E Freeport News!

Green Ronin has re-released Death in Freeport updated for D&D Fifth Edition! See the announcement on the company blog here, and buy the PDF in the online store here

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Grey Angels LEGO minis

I recently built some LEGO minis for my "Grey Angels" characters and some of their favorite NPCs. The notes and captions below are copied from my original posts on Facebook in mid-May.

(See Nightwatch Dossier: Patricia "Trick" Tillinghast for more details of that game from past blog posts here.) 
*****

Today I made some LEGO minis related to the Buffy/Angel RPG campaign that some old gaming buddies recently revived for a reunion arc.

Patricia "Trick" Tillinghast (redhead) training with her new girlfriend, Sophia Martin, who wants to become a Thyrian, too. (The Thyrians are essentially superpowered Amazons--like Slayers, but more so--though not exclusively female.)

Sophia and Trick, on a date.

Trick in (for now, completely hypothetical) armor based on the Minotaur, the symbol of her Thyrian Sword legacy.


Trick's ex, the witch Diana Bellefleur, who became Persephone's champion after her death several years ago. Trick is currently preparing for a quest to bring her back to life.

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More Grey Angels minis, this time of Baz Olmstead, my Atlantean sorcerer, and his wife Ariel.

Ariel is a mutant Atlantean, a literal mermaid. Baz spent a very long time searching for a spell to grant her legs, so she could visit the surface world (and also change back, at will).

Ariel as Baz first met her, tinkering in her father's workshop. He pretty much fell for her right then and there--tail, grease smudges, and all.

Baz has developed limited shapeshifting powers since meeting Ariel, so he frequently grows a tail to match hers when they are together at home in New Atlantis.